HP ProLiant servers (and pre-merger Compaq ProLiant servers) require specific BIOS settings in order to run VMware ESX Server. These settings ensure that the physical hardware can be addressed properly and consistently by the VMkernel. Use of BIOS settings with values other than those identified below may result in operational instability.
On HP ProLiant servers (and pre-merger Compaq ProLiant servers), the BIOS may not fully populate the PCI interrupt routing entries in the MP Configuration Table (part of the Intel MultiProcessor Specification) if the MPS Table Mode setting within the BIOS is incorrect. An incomplete MP Configuration Table may result in failure of an initial installation of ESX Server, failure to complete the boot process, or instability during normal operation.
For stable operation on these systems, ESX Server requires a BIOS MPS Table Mode setting of Full Table APIC. With the exception of the specific systems referenced below, the following BIOS settings must be applied in order if available:
- System Options > OS Selection: Select Windows 2000.
- Advanced Options > MPS Table Mode: Select Full Table APIC.
- When presented with multiple Windows options (Windows 2000, Windows Server 2003, Windows .NET, and so on) select Windows 2000. If both BIOS settings are available and can be modified, both must be set correctly. You should confirm these settings after any BIOS upgrade operation.
For the HP ProLiant DL 740 and DL 760 servers specifically, set the OS Selection BIOS setting to Linux to allow for proper operation when hyperthreading is enabled. The remainder of the BIOS settings, and the order in which they are applied, are as specified above.
If any BIOS setting is incorrect, you may see one or more messages in /var/log/messages or /var/log/vmkwarning on the Service Console similar to the following:
- May 11 22:36:30 esx101 vmkernel: 0:00:00:00.00 ALERT: Chipset: 303: no PCI entries - Check BIOS Settings
- May 11 22:36:30 esx101 vmkernel: 0:00:00:00.000 cpu0) ALERT: Chipset: 433: no PCI entries in MPS table - check BIOS settings
- May 11 22:36:30 esx101 vmkernel: 0:00:00:00.000 cpu0) WARNING: IOAPIC: 986: no PCI entry for busID 2 busIRQ 8 - trying ISA irq 15
You may also see unnecessary hardware interrupt sharing, which is explained in detail in knowledge base article 1290 at www.vmware.com/support/kb/enduser/std_adp.php?p_faqid=1290.
You may need to use the ROM-Based Setup Utility (RBSU), SmartStart CD, or other BIOS configuration tool to make these adjustments. Hewlett-Packard's Web site includes extensive documentation on how to adjust BIOS settings on HP and Compaq systems, including generalized RBSU guides which may be found at search.hp.com/query.html?qt=title%3A%22ROM-Based+Setup+Utility+User+Guide%22.
The "OS Selection" section of the HP RBSU User Guide notes that, in certain circumstances, adjusting the OS Selection BIOS setting may result in an automatic change of the MPS Table Mode BIOS setting (emphasis added):
The OS Selection option allows you to select the primary OS for the server. A list of supported OSs for the server displays on the menu, with the ROM defaulting to Microsoft Windows 2000 when the server supports it. Default server Multi Processor (MP) settings and PCI Hot Plug reservation settings are automatically set based on the OS selected.
Although an automatic change may occur, the individual BIOS settings should be confirmed explicitly if you intend to use this system with VMware ESX Server. For additional assistance in making these changes, please contact HP Technical Support.